Recently I made a trip to Hawaii to discuss best irrigation practices for growing pineapples. Dole Pineapple was the host and below are a few facts and best practices for irrigating pineapples. You will also find below an awesome video showing details of the harvest.
Pineapples are perennial crops requiring more than a year to bear its first fruit. The fruit is typically grown on a well-drained soil using a thin plastic mulch film to reduce weed pressure and maintain good soil moisture. Growers can expect to produce as many as three crops per planting over the course of two to three years and the fruit can weigh as much as six pounds.
Drip irrigation is used to deliver a method of low volume irrigation providing water and nutrients directly to the plant or root zone. Drip tape is buried two to four inches deep between plant rows under the plastic mulch film. Drip tape run lengths are typically a few hundred feet and require a 12” emitter spacing with .310GPM/100’ – that’s 33 GPM per acre of water! Drip irrigation is a supplement to the natural rainfall for the area –53 inches annually. The average water application is approximately .08 inches/hr. and irrigation sets can last from a few hours to over 12 hours depending on the climate and soil moisture conditions.
As with any crop, soil and site selection is important for optimal growing conditions. A well-drained soil will provide the balance of water and oxygen for the crop to grow and thrive. Acidic soils with a pH of 4.5 to 5.5 are also beneficial in helping to mitigate potential soil borne diseases.
With 23,000 plants per acre, the ideal growing conditions would include sunny days with cool nights and moderate temperatures of 60-70 degrees. Pineapples grow best at lower elevations from sea level to no higher than 2,800-ft.
Our intent is to share information, connect growers and water managers so we can achieve our goal of more crop per drop. In the coming weeks you will see more articles like this concerning specific crops, irrigation practices, improvements and other intriguing agriculture innovations. We would love to hear from you in the comments sections if you have anything to add to this post of want to learn about a specific crop. If you enjoyed this article please consider subscribing to the blog.
Would pineapple growers like an implement that could demolish the crop residue, inludings roots to about 5mm so yo the farmer can re-plant in around 50 days?
I work for Dole in Hawaii….btw most of the numbers in this article are inaccurate or outdated such as rainfall and emitter flowrate. As far as the implement goes, it’s my understanding that part of the reason we leave the fields fallow is to reduce pest pressure (nematodes, insects, ect). Also since we are not looking to expand our operations, producing more pineapple is not our main priority. However if fields could be cycled thru more quickly fallow weed control would be less of an issue. What kind of implement are you talking about?
Ben – Thank you for pointing this out! Do you mind updating me on the latest flow rates that are being used so I can update the article? I met with some individuals from Dole about 5 years ago and based the information in this article from those conversations.
Ben, I am beginning field trials of fish hydrolysate/shellfish liquid fertilizer on pineapples in Jamaica. In your experience at Dole, have you seen this fertilizer used. There is plenty of good data on vegetables and fruits, I have not any direct mention of use on pineapples. Data tells me a NPK of a
6-10 range across the board depending on soil needs is normal. The shellfish addition provides a nematode control agent (chitin). Any thoughts?